The Saturday after Mr. James Brown died, I had a house party for which I practically filled the memory of my iPod docking system with several dozen of his funky hits and Motown ballads in a kind of tribute. As I watched my guests—a multiracial, multiethnic crowd of neighbors, co-workers and friends from the Tony Bennett to the hip hop generations—get their grooves on, I began to wonder: What if Mr. Brown had opened a restaurant, or at least, lent his Name to one? Would its appeal ...

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